Generational StrategiesLesson 4 - Growth Cycles of a Church
DNA is our blueprint for life. Each of us received twenty-three chromosomes from our father and twenty-three from our mother. The combination of those forty-six chromosomes makes us totally unique. There are over seven billion people on planet earth and there’s no one like you. You’re one of a kind.
The same is true concerning churches. Out of all the churches in The Kingdom of God there’s not one like yours. Every pastor has different gifts. Churches are uniquely created by God and people.
The Birth of a Church
This is a wonderful time of new love. It’s usually a difficult time financially because we have such few resources but we overcome the problem by the power of love and the miracle of new life. New people begin coming to the church because babies attract people. This is a time of new dreams and great vision.
The Growth of a Church
Our members begin learning how to work together as a team. They are solution-minded and very creative in solving problems. There are great faith and enthusiasm among the people. There’s a strong emphasis on unity and tolerance. The people genuinely like each other and there’s sweet harmony. This is the time when we begin establishing our goals and values for the church.
The Maturity of a Church
The structure of the church has been established and the church ministries become more effective. As the church matures the structure of ministry remains simple and continues to be focused on future growth. At this stage the structure is still flexible and changeable, and the ministry of the church is innovative and creative. There’s a continued emphasis on evangelism and the church is focused on reaching new people. The church members are willing to sacrifice to see the church continue to grow.
The Maintenance of a Church
The emphasis of the church changes from the future to the past. The church becomes mechanical in its approach to ministry. They lose their evangelistic passion and become inward-focused. Church structure becomes heavy and unyielding. The church members place a high value on tradition and don’t want anything to change. The focus becomes on keeping their members and trying to keep them happy rather than reaching new people. The church plateaus in growth and an attitude of apathy take over.
The Death of a Church
There are no new births in the church and there’s little enthusiasm. There becomes a low tolerance for differences of opinions and people begin quarreling over little things. The church develops a reputation for doubt and division. More and more people begin leaving the church.
What can be done to stop this death cycle?
We have to start intentionally thinking generationally. Grandpa can never become the grandson of the family. One wise leader told his congregation, “I cannot be your future because I am your past.”
The Rebirth of a Church
There must be a renewed emphasis on the positive. Stop pulling weeds and start planting seeds. Stop focusing on the past and start focusing on the future. We must intentionally bring young people into leadership. These new leaders should have our DNA inside them. If we promote them into the ministry they’ll help the church experience a rebirth. We can’t extract the DNA from a church without killing it, but if we’ll mix the DNA of a new generation it will automatically bring about change. This is a way to produce positive change in a church.
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About the Author: Dr. Dale Yerton
Dr. Yerton serves as an overseer of a network of churches across the world. What began as a network of six church groups representing 500 churches in Mexico has grown into an international ministry.
He and Evelyn, his wife over fifty years, live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They have two daughters: Lora–married to the Rev. Vince Farrell, pastors of Journey Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky–and Kari—also of Hopkinsville–and are the proud grandparents of Emma and Bennett Farrell.